Record Review with Kevin Bryan

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Here are your latest record reviews, courtesy of Kevin Bryan.

No Stranger To The Dark ­- The Best of Gregg Allman (Retroworld).­ The title of this splendid new anthology is something of a misnomer, since the contents are only drawn from the recordings that Gregg Allman made for the Epic label during the late 80s and 90s. The compilers have unearthed a wealth of soulful Southern rock nonetheless, setting covers of Jackson Browne’s These Days and James Carr’s r&b classic The Dark End Of The Street, alongside self­-penned gems such as his surprise 1987 hit, I’m No Angel.

Renaissance - Live Fillmore West 1970 (Angel Air)­. The original incarnation of Renaissance actually bore little or no relation to the classically influenced outfit which enjoyed a good deal of critical acclaim during the middle and late seventies.

This band was formed by Keith Relf and drummer Jim McCarty in the aftermath of The Yardbirds’ sad demise, and Angel Air’s new offering was recorded in fairly murky sound quality at San Francisco’s Fillmore West in March 1970 during their one and only American tour, fleshed out a little with the inclusion of a few demo tracks and outtakes and a hitherto unreleased 1976 track from vocalist Jane Relf entitled Statues.

Santana - IV (Santana IV Records / Thirty Tigers)­. This eagerly anticipated reunion album has been several years in the making and finds legendary latin/rock guitarist Carlos Santana working once again with the classic line­-up which recorded three trailblazing albums for the CBS label almost half a century ago, giving listeners old and new an opportunity to hear him trading guitar licks with the excellent Neal Schon once again. The finished product is much more than a mere exercise in nostalgia however, as you’ll discover for yourself if you take the time to lend an ear to vibrant tracks such as Anywhere You Want To Go, Come As You Are and Blues Magic, with its eloquent echoes of Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac.

Fairport Convention - Live at My Father’s Place 1974 (Retroworld).­ Vocalist Sandy Denny was nearing the end of her second stint with Fairport Convention when the folk­rockers made their way to New York to record this performance for a local radio station.

The results were never intended for commercial release but should be required listening for Fairport devotees everywhere, blending old favourites such as the epic opener, Matty Groves, with a couple of impressive tasters for Sandy’s forthcoming solo album, Solo and Like An Old Fashioned Waltz.